Gottman Method Couples Therapy

Gottman’s Method Couples Therapy is a research-based treatment for couples experiencing difficulty in their relationship. This method began with the concept that in order to understand relationships, it was necessary to observe and understand interactions. From this grew the ‘Love Lab’, created by John Gottman and Robert Levenson over 40 years ago. The ‘Love Lab’ was a facility located at and affiliated with the University of Washington in Seattle, where Gottman and Levenson studied married couples and observed their behavior. Couples lived in an apartment for a specified length of time while being observed via cameras. The researchers also conducted interviews and had the couples process through presenting issues, while closing monitoring each individual’s physiological reactions.

After observing and interviewing close to 3000 clients, Gottman (along with his wife Julie Gottman) went on to develop the theory that there are ‘Masters of relationship’ and ‘Disasters of relationship’. The master couples are able to resolve issues, attend to each other, and remain happy over time. The Disasters were the couples that either broke up, or remained unhappy with each other. The Gottmans determined the components of a relationship that lead to being in a Master relationship, and named these components the ‘Sound Relationship House’.

The Sound Relationship House consists of seven areas of importance for any relationship to be successful. These components include:

  • Build Love Maps:How well do you know your partner’s inner psychological world, his or her history, worries, stresses, joys, and hopes?
  • Share Fondness and Admiration:The antidote for contempt, this level focuses on the amount of affection and respect within a relationship. (To strengthen fondness and admiration, express appreciation and respect.)
  • Turn Towards:State your needs, be aware of times when your partner is trying to connect and respond to (turn towards) them. The small moments of everyday life are actually the building blocks of relationship. Turning away, or not engaging when your partner tries to connect can create a relationship that is distant, without emotional connection.
  • The Positive Perspective: The presence of a positive approach to problem-solving and the success of repair attempts. Thinking and wanting the best for your partner.
  • Manage Conflict:We say “manage” conflict rather than “resolve” conflict, because relationship conflict is natural and has functional, positive aspects. Understand that there is a critical difference in handling perpetual problems and solvable problems. Understand the importance of compromise, as opposed to winning.
  • Make Life Dreams Come True:Create an atmosphere that encourages each person to talk honestly about his or her hopes, values, convictions and aspirations.
  • Create Shared Meaning: Create commonality. Make a point to create rituals in your relationship, as well as common interests.
  • Trust:A state that occurs when a person knows that his or her partner acts and thinks to maximize that person’s best interests and benefits, not just the partner’s own interests and benefits. In other words, this means, “my partner has my back and is there for me.”
  • Commitment:This means believing (and acting on the belief) that your relationship with this person is completely your lifelong journey, for better or for worse (meaning that if it gets worse you will both work to improve it).

If you feel that there are any components of the Sound Relationship House missing in your relationship, please make an appointment with one of our Gottman Method trained clinicians. Gottman research has determined that most couples wait an average of six years of living in a distressed relationship before coming in to couples therapy. I have found that by waiting so long to come in, manageable problems usually have turned into problems that are destroying the relationship. Don’t let your issues get too big to manage before making the decision to get some help.

Gotman, J.M., & Silver, N. (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Crown.

Disclaimer: This blog and the information herein are for educational and informational purposes only. It is not meant as a substitute for professional psychological or therapeutic services.  The self-help information provided by this blog are solely the opinion of the bloggers and should not be considered as a form of therapy, advice, direction, diagnosis, or treatment of any kind. Instead, the information is designed to be used in conjunction with ongoing treatment provided by a mental health professional. Use the information in this blog at your own risk. All of the information is provided “as-is,” with no warranties of any kind, express or implied.

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